How has a citizen of Kazakhstan become an employee of oil industry highly demanded all over the world

«At the University we have been told that we are the only engineers, who do not see what they are doing since our goals are under the ground. Plus we experience sufficient risk factors related to safety of personnel, ecology, environment protection. Frequently we have to convince the management based on collected data and verified analysis under the condition of limited time and increased pressure. This particular attracts me in my work of petrophysics: availability of problems and complicated tasks without a specific algorithm of solution and direct search and integration of such decisions».

Petrophysicist (physicist of rocks) of Tengizchevroil LLP (TCO) – Syo Yegor shared his formula of success with and told us about his profession.

– How and why did you acquire such a specialization?

– In the year 2009 I graduated from Colorado School of Mines majoring in Oil and gas industry and basically the largest part of my career I have been working for Tengizchevroil company.

Within the first two years I was working on Tengiz deposit field in the capacity of production engineer, afterwards I decided to change specialization and acquire qualification of petrophysicist, which took me around 1.5 years.

[Petrophysicist deals with research of physical properties of rocks. His objective is obtainment of data on characteristics of rocks core material necessary in search for and exploration of oil and gas fields, designing of development and operation thereof.]

In general they do not teach petrophysics at university as a separate specialization. The majority of specialists in this area are retraining in the process of their career from geologists, geophysicists or engineers.

In the year 2011 Chevron company became aware of shortage of specialists in this area and invested into retraining program, during which existing petrophysicists could train interested young specialists. I had a chance of becoming the first graduate of this program.

I was interested in this occupation since I had already had theoretical base in petrophysics from the university and work experience in collection and interpretation of certain petrophysical data in Tengiz. Besides in 2012 they planned in Tengiz to resume the drilling campaign, where acquired petrophysical skills would not have been at a better time.

I think that the most important factor in acquiring a needed qualification is the interest towards it.

Petrophysics is a rather narrow specialization in oil and gas industry. Basically if you say that you are petrophysicist few people will know what you do in particular. Changeover of specialization was rather risky decision on my part. But if you have already taken the decision do not turn back.

Coming back to TCO after completing the program I became aware that petrophysics allows to unite different areas of field development. It not only helps in analyzing different types of data and integrate them for adoption of the most balanced and well considered decisions, but also can become a connecting link between different disciplines. I like the fact that petrophysicist as a narrow specialist everyday has to learn something new in related disciplines and projects in order to make his recommendations applicable and useful.

Since 2018 I temporarily work in the capacity of petrophysicist in process center of Chevron company in Houston, USA. My specialization has become even more narrow, now I deal with petrophysics in cased hole. One of the advantages of working in the process center is a different experience of working with different locations, deposit fields, projects and people.

For example, in TCO company we have two deposit fields: Tengiz and Korolevskoye. And both of these fields are very specific. After several years of work you become and expert of one deposit field. But at Chevron I had an opportunity of enriching my experience and working with deposit fields, which differ through their geology (terrigenous, carbonate, non-traditional): through types of hydrocarbons (light oil, heavy oil, gas), stage of development (exploration, primary production, injection and other) and etc. Obtainment of different experience is a huge advantage of my staying in the USA.

The second advantage is the need for leaving the comfort zone and prove my occupational aptitude at a new place. When you are working for a certain time in the same group you acquire certain reputation and standing. You know very well internal processes and accumulate a network of useful contacts. You become overgrown with a cocoon of comfort, from which you do not want to eagerly go out. Unfortunately it is difficult to professionally develop under such conditions. In Houston I again had to not only acquire new skills but also obtain professional recognition and work on my reputation. And I understood that professional ethics and positive approach to work are valued in Kazakhstan as well as in the States. From the professional point of view now it is a pleasure to me when people address me for help and I can be useful to someone on the other part of the world.

And what is interesting and what I am very proud of is that the experience I gained in Kazakhstan, is mostly applicable and useful.

Deposit fields, types of hydrocarbons, geographic location change, but at the same time principles and basis for data analysis and integration of this analysis into adoption of decisions is similar everywhere. My experience in Kazakhstan and approach to solution of problems frequently seems to my American colleagues to be non-standard, which is in most cases is an advantage rather than a disadvantage.

– Why did you decide to go to oil and gas industry?

– In my case several circumstances influences my choice of the profession. I was born in Taraz city and basically in Zhambyl region we have only one small Amangeldinskoye deposit field. And occupation of oil industry worker is practically not applicable in my native city. When I was entering the university I applied for two specialties: “Information systems” and “Oil and gas industry”. I always liked computer technologies, but I applied for oil and gas industry more because of prestige of this occupation in Kazakhstan and critical role of oil and gas industry in economy of Kazakhstan. It so happened that on the basis of the Unified National Testing I was awarded a scholarship for study in “Oil and gas industry” specialty, and Kazakhstan community of programmers lost a potential participator. Honestly saying at the moment of documents submission I knew little what career oil industry worker really is.

Two years I studied at the Kazakh National Technical University, afterwards I left to continue my study at the Colorado School of Mines within the frames of Bolashak program. This was the beginning of my professional growth. In the USA the higher education is more application oriented and already during study the students were directly familiarized with their future occupation. We visited different production facilities: drill sites, pipelines, refineries, we observed holding of seismic and petrophysical operations, participated in projects, in which data from deposit fields were applied and etc. My student years still seem to me to be extremely interesting and inspiring. Higher education in particular has instilled in me the sense of romantic appeal in my profession, understanding of its significance for population of the whole Earth and responsibility for my work.

At the University we have been told that we are the only engineers, who do not see results of their efforts since everything is under the ground. Besides oil and gas industry has quite a number of risk factors related to safety of personnel, ecology, environment protection; frequently decisions are adopted on the basis of collected data and held analysis under the conditions of limited time and increased pressure. This particular attracts me in my work: availability of problems and complicated tasks without a specific algorithm of solution and direct search and integration of such decisions.

– What is your formula of success? What is your motivator?

– Often it so happens that circumstances develop smoothly for you and everything goes easily and simply. But sometimes it happens on the contrary: you have all opportunities and skills but for some reason circumstances do not develop as you want. It seems to me that formula of success in the technical career is an aggregate of mental abilities, professional ethics, emotional mental power and right time. It is important to remember that first three components are interchangeable so significant advantage in one of them does not compensate for shortage thereof in two others.

I think that it is also important to mention that evaluation of your professional qualities is based on results of your work. It is much more important to achieve results in your current position rather than cater yourself with supposed results of the next position. For me the next step in career shall be at the moment when you have achieved convincing results in your current position.

The last element – right time I perceive as a possibility of what is happening. In such a case a negative result is not so sensible. During study in the USA I was one of the best students in the stream. I dealt with scientific works, was an active member of the Society of petroleum engineers, actively participated in the university life. At that moment I had a presentable curriculum vitae. For 3 years I had been sending my curriculum vitae to different Kazakhstan companies with the purpose of undergoing of an industrial practical training and I did not receive a single positive reply. Such an distressing result significantly shattered my confidence in future employment.

Due to unavailability of places for industrial practical training I underwent practical training in research laboratory of the university. This was a very exciting practical training and upon completion thereof I even received a university award for contribution into one of the projects.

After returning to Kazakhstan while answering the question whether I underwent practical training or not. I said that I always had the desire but I did not have an opportunity. I told about my work experience in the university laboratory. Employer was impressed by this and upon graduation from the university I had two job offers.

In our industry it is important to know how a person will behave in a non-standard situation. The industry itself pushes to search for new alternatives. You always have to understand reasons for what you are doing.

For me the basic motivation in work is to be useful, and this use shall be considerable. Certain orders or requests may frequently occur in the course of work. Before executing any order and starting to work over any request it is always important for me to know, which is the purpose of such a request, and what kind of end use will it bring. If a person explains, why he/she needs something and builds a chain of actions then I receive an additional motivation since my work is a part of something bigger.

Therefore while being a starting mentor I always ask my young colleagues to take an additional step and to learn the purpose, for which their work is required, how their work will be applied and for what purpose. In my opinion it is important to know the end-goal of the work, to feel yourself a part of the chain, rather than a dead end, from which they took something and went forward. Inclusion into the process is also an important part of motivation for me.

And finally, it is important to participate in projects, which you personally like, lead to certain serious changes and increase the value. These are such projects, which you would like to realize upon your on desire rather than coercion, and upon completion of which you will feel satisfied. Frequently such projects have to be realized on your own, they may not to be directly related to work, and you can practice them during your leisure time. Such projects mobilize internal resources, increase motivation and self-realization.

For example, during work in Atyrau in the capacity of professional section chairman of the Society of Petroleum Engineers I arranged the first student competition in Atyrau city, which has become an annual competition by now, seminars for young specialists in personal diversity and inclusion, which seminars allowed to strengthen relations between different companies; I actively participated in different charity and sports events.

Such out-of-work events, which you arrange upon your own initiative with the purpose of helping someone, will allow you to develop skills of leadership and management, allow to find new interesting contacts and open up new opportunities.

For me it is important to have and use the opportunity of realizing such projects, which were designed upon my initiative, or in which I directly participated, to be able to logically convince as well as to take well considered and well grounded decisions on the basis of data and analysis held, to solve problems, which seemed to be insoluble. My motivation is to come to work with a desire of doing something useful and to leave the work place with a sense of creative and professional satisfaction.